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27 juillet 2007

Womad 2007 : Awesome opening night

School children in Malmesbury might be used to performing in front of a few hundred people at this time of the year in their annual productions. But for a select few, they will have the chance to take to the stage in front of tens of thousands later this month, as they open the WOMAD Festival on Thursday, July 26. The event, founded by Genesis legend Peter Gabriel, will be held at Charlton Park, near Malmesbury, for the first time. The choirs of Malmesbury Primary, Lea and Garsdon and St Joseph's are now busy preparing for the gig of a lifetime. They will open the festival with Grammy Award-winning group The Blind Boys of Alabama.

Joining them all will be the Malmesbury School Soul Band. Music co-ordinator at Malmesbury Primary School Angelique Martin is in charge of the younger children. She said it would be a dream come true for all of them to sing in front of such a huge crowd. "We are delighted to have the opportunity to perform at this year's WOMAD Festival, alongside such a number of fantastic musicians from around the world," she said. "The children at school really love singing, and performing in the festival will be an inspiring experience that they will never forget."

The choir, which features more than 70 youngsters, will then perform with the Vocal Works Gospel Choir from Bath, before being given their own set on Friday to sing and dance in traditional Indian costumes. While the primary school children are busy rehearsing, the senior school students are also hard at work for their big day. Music teacher Chris Knibbs said none of them could wait for the opening night. It was a jaw dropping moment when we found out we would be playing," he said.

"The WOMAD artistic director came and listened to us, was pleased with us and said they were going to put us on. It's a terrifying experience to play in front of that many people, but it is also an awesome feeling. It's going to be a big moment for the kids and they are so excited. They were totally blown away by it all and I still don't think they quite appreciate what it will be like. The school is hugely proud obviously because this is such a big event and it is something that just doesn't happen for school bands. We are very lucky and also extremely proud." Mr Knibbs said they were practising as often as possible, but there would still be a lot of nerves to overcome.

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